It’s been a long time since I had the spoons to write reviews. Friday, is Bandcamp day. So this is what I’m listening to.

It’s been a tough few months. Finding the spoons to write with my voice has been a challenge. So I have a lot of albums stacked up in my Bandcamp list. I’m feeling hopeful tonight. Going to try and summon that spark and share some of what is making these dark days bearable. As always if you have something you want to see reviewed put it in the comments below.

Manticore KissIntertwined – I am genuinely upset this EP has not gotten more attention. The Vancouver duo was recorded by Jackknife studios. As we all know everything Jason touches is gold. The band features Kat Bastow – Vocals, Keyboard, Electronics and Ari Mansell – Vocals, Cello, Violin. It has a unique and expansive electronic sound of world beat synthpop somewhere between the soulful depth of Dead Can Dance and shimmering beauty of Erasure. Both vocalists are talented and inspired. A crystal ballroom waltz in perfect syncopation. This album was a magical pool to dive into and transport you to a fantasy world of beauty and lost romanticism. I was staggered by how immersed in a dream every song left me. These are dark and challenging times. To create music so easy to get lost in is a balm I didn’t realize how much I was longing for until I was lost in it. The harmonies were a true dialog that added depth and perspective to the story. A captivating surprise that made an instant fan of me.

Favorite Track: Forever – This dark tone and winding melody was absolutely mesmerizing. The synth pads were full of movement and gorgeous refracted light. The lyrics are imagery rich poetry and painted by perfectly synched harmony. This is like a Tolkien prose in musical form. The chorus is a spiritual hymn that makes your heart thump in your chest.

https://manticorekiss.bandcamp.com/album/intertwined-full-ep

Jean-Marc LedermanThe Bad Tempered Synthesizer – It can be so difficult to review Belgium composer Jean Marc Lederman, it seems everything new he does pushes hard against the caul of artistic boundaries as to what I think of as “songs” in the traditional sense. Every new release is such a dynamic experience that teaches me something as a songwriter as well as about my own human journey. This 12 song album was is an homage to Wendy Carlos an American composer who helped develop the original Moog. A true pioneer who changed the face of modern electronic music in so many ways. Jean Marc spins a bleep bloop tale of expression and change without ever uttering a word. It feels like a racecar driver putting a prototype car through it’s paces, taking what the engineer had made and conducting a series of tests that showed the absolute limitations of sound and emotions capable by a single instrument. I feel like every new release is a challenge to what is possible to create within the concept of being a musician. An unfettered freedom of firing a rocket towards the sky not caring where it comes down. It makes me hopeful that this kind of courage and ambition can still be celebrated in the modern era. Where it feels everything has been done. The past, the future, the respect to those who came before, and the brazen chaos. All here in a glass bubble, frozen in a moment in time. This record is not pop hits, not hooks, even though the songs are pleasing. This is high art, designed to set you on the road, and allowing you to take your own journey.

https://jmlederman.bandcamp.com/album/the-bad-tempered-synthesizer

Abbey DeathDeath is For the Living – July 2021 single from Darktonica independent couple Abbey Death. I really love the lofi minimalist tone for how much is going on. Valarie is a tempting whispery invitation luring you towards deaths sweet embrace. Nex descends on the chorus with a harsh jagged glass terrifying tone. The blend is a culmination of the romanticism and fear or the unknown in one. The late 90s flavor guitar lead builds the tension for the layered vocal choir at the end. It’s nostalgic in a way seldom seen, a throwback to the late 90s’s early 2000s. A Steel teeth and silk cloth style that flows and leaves me excited for what is next.

https://projektrecords.bandcamp.com/track/death-is-for-the-living-featuring-addam-robert-paul-name-your-price-download

Armalyte Industries – This is an amazing celebration at an outstanding price. Armalyte is setting a standard for boutique labels and celebrating 20 years of putting out music that carves the line between rock/metal/industrial. 24 tracks with some of the biggest names in the genre, and some of the hungriest new sounds for the future. The online live stream highlighted the best aspects of the current industrial scene, lifting each other up. This compilation is sawblade sharp and electrically charged. An old school exhibition that puts on display all the label has to offer. A chance to hear collaborations by the likes of <PIG> and The Joy Thieves, Industrial mainstays like Spankthenun, and exciting new trend setters like Der Prosector. This is a must have to find 5 new bands you didn’t know were your future favorites. I love the quality, the execution, and what a compilation like this represents. Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media.

1.DROWND – Lust (Demo) 02:43
2.Cubanate – Transit (2021 Remaster) 05:50
3.Chemlab – Exile On Mainline (Demo) 04:05
4.PIG X The Joy Thieves – Badland(er) (Blowtorch Blues Remix) 05:24
5.Jim Davies – In Shadows 04:15
6.Seething Akira – Paralysed Algorithms (The Algorithm Remix) 04:03
7.Der Prosector – No Amnesty / Car Bomb 2021 09:00
8.i! – Kingdom Of The Snake 07:32
9.Haloblack ft. PIG – Punch The Deck (Dirty) (2021 Remaster) 03:38
10.Skatenigs – Hell; And Back (Ten Feet Tall Remix by The Joy Thieves) 04:54
11.Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Colors Under Attack (Live @ Primal Recording Studios) 04:14
12.Concrete Lung – Destructive (Live from Lockdown) 03:49
13.Tayne – Coherent (Live @ SS2) 02:02
14.Featured – Shelter 04:07
15.Paresis – Higher Plane 2021 05:20
16.Khaidian – Evasion (Khadian’s Star Chamber Remix) 04:17
17.Je$us Loves Amerika ft. Chris Connelly & Gord Young – The Great Pretender 05:01
18.Be My Enemy – Metalhead 04:21
19.K-Nitrate – C-Resistor 04:28
20.Needleye – Cut Myself (Punish Remix by Marc Heal) 03:44
21.Digicore – No You Don’t 03:10
22.Flesh Eating Foundation – Words Without Echo (First Echo Version) 03:32
23.SPANKTHENUN – Right Father 05:43
24.Chris Connelly – Teddy Bear’s Picnic

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/album/armalyte-xx

Monsieur Pompier’s Travelling FreakshowTeatime Terrors – Wow what a fresh fun take. The fever dream carnival cacophony of sound. Elements of of Zappa, Man Man, synthwave, and Syd Barrett. The lyrics are a clever, humorous, psychedelia space opera. It’s so exciting to see a band throw caution to the wind and create something truly strange and beautiful. I think the greatest power of this record is the creativity of the characters. Each song is a page from a vibrant comic book concept transported into pixilated retro mono synth songs. I really hope to see this album played live someday, because it sounds like a magical party brought to life. On Cleopatra records.

https://monsieurpompier.bandcamp.com/album/teatime-terrors

nino sableThe AHHH – New lofi minimalist terror trance single from Nino. This track is straight up nightmare fuel with a haunting growl and skin crawling poetic lyrics. You need to listen to this track, not right before you go to bed, but you need to listen to it.

https://ninosable.bandcamp.com/track/the-ahhh

Rohn – LedermanWatch Out – I know, I have already talked about Jean Marc in this review. Michigan native Emileigh Rohn has an uplifting electricity in her voice that fills me with hope and energy. Her recent tracks with John Fryer’s my new favorite get stuff done music. Now she teams with another living legend in Lederman to focus that fire into a swirling slow motion golden whip. Add in top tier remixes from Assemblage 23, Mark Hokings, and Leatherstrip and COP has put out another home run single. After working with electrosynphonic masters to create emotive sonic paintings like this, the only question that remains is. What will she do next?

https://rohn-lederman.bandcamp.com/album/watch-out

Cult Of AliaOfferings – New grinding mist rolling future sounds from David Wright on Cold Transmission. I love the fusion of darkscene genres here. The vocals drip from the microphone with sensuality. The songs all hold this enveloping mist quality filling the city streets and holding it’s listeners hostage in the darkness. The creative use of digital sounds add a deliciously unplaceable flavor and build the tension. Split Seconds in particular is such a cerebral thriller of fear and longing. This makes me want to slow goth wave my arms on a dancefloor.

https://cultofalia.bandcamp.com/

C Z A R I N AWonderland – I love a good dark pop as much as anyone. This new single from Czarzina is a napalm fire burst. Perfectly crafted, full of soul, and a hook that releases technovirus tendrils and plants itself in your head. We talked recently with her in a podcast that will come out Friday 8/7/21 about how this song was based on her experience of moving to Spain where she learned the spiritual history of the region. Easy on the ears, piercing to the mind. <chefs kiss>

https://czarinaofficial.bandcamp.com/album/wonderland

Red Meat – Manchester UK’s dancetastic hard edge industrial is a album every DJ needs to download and use to blow the walls apart of every dance club in the world. Rhys Hughes has that filthy Uncle Al sex voice which makes you want to shake your body harder and meaner than you ever have before. It’s that perfect mix of glam and grime skirting a razors edge of the danger you want to stick around for. I love hearing music that isn’t my style, but is delivered with such quality I can’t help myself being drawn in by it. This whole album is pure club magic that makes me long for sweaty bodies spasmodically jerking in time while the crumbling walls of a filthy warehouse thrum in the darkness.

https://dronemcr.bandcamp.com/album/homo-vulgaris

daddybear (Feat: Grabyourface) – Science Fiction – Wow Matt Fanale really brought it with this new single. Teaming up with Marie of Grabyourface was a perfect icing on the cake. This is a jam of hypnotic proportions and the message is you must move. Marie’s voice is a smoky sensual alien being both exotic and alluring. The single also has a really cool trance like bside and a holographic wavy Sawtooth remix. Turn the club speakers to 11 and feel it flow through you.

https://daddybear.bandcamp.com/album/science-fiction

Chaos Magicks – Ritualistic Darkwave and More…

Ever since I heard the dark classic “These Remains” by the Thrill Kill Kult, I have been hooked on that sinister sound. It’s not quite dance music, but it’s not “not” dance music is it? It always made me feel like I was a character in a movie that snuck their way into the VIP room at the club only to find they stumbled into some modern pagan ritual, ala the masked ball from Eyes Wide Shut, but with the classical music soundtrack replaced by something akin to Skinny Puppy fronted by Chelsea Wolfe.

Take a ride with me and let’s listen to some of the artists that I think are exploring some of  these same sonic pathways today…

Cult of Alia – The Only Angel – This new track from Cult of Alia, the side project of David Wright from Creux Lies, gives me the feeling of a being in a 80’s vampire flick where the blood junkie in question stalks his prey from across the crowded dance floor. They lock eyes and the hunt begins. Great synth sounds and the pulsing beat gets your butt moving… Definitely looking forward to more from this project!

https://cultofalia.bandcamp.com/track/the-only-angel

Bara Hari – Weapon Samantha Franco hits us with Weapon! Inspired by her experiences with the exploitative men in the music industry, she delivers an all too important (and honestly all too familiar) reminder that we need to get our shit straight and be fucking decent human beings to each other. But let’s be clear… This track is a serious jam. I love the video concept and I can totally see her kicking ass like the Bride in Kill Bill.

https://barahari.bandcamp.com/track/weapon

Owl Theory – Heaven in Reverse – This E.P. of dark, seductive, electronic pop came about from Jarod Gibson of Odonis Odonis doing a gothic / darkwave take on Harry Styles song ‘WOMAN‘. That track anchors a collection of dark pop that flows from the ambient soundtrack stylings of the title track, to the trip hop vibes of the track “Spin”. I love this record… once I start playing it I get lost in the sound and before i know it, it’s over and I gotta spin it again!

https://digitalmarkt.bandcamp.com/album/heaven-in-reverse

SØLVE – SVNT LACRIMÆ RERVM – Atmospheric synths paired with punishing industrial beats. This dark and powerful track is steeped in cinematic ritualism… Every time I listen to this song, it lingers in the corners of my mind and teases me with its aftershocks, making me want more.

https://slve.bandcamp.com/track/svnt-lacrim-rervm

Sidewalks & Skeletons – ETERNAL REST This track, featuring frequent collaborator Cash for Gold, throws shades of Crystal Castles for me, but they pair it up with some thick urban beats and blazes a dark path of its own. I love how they can take an airy synth typically found in traditional dance music and make it heavy enough to smother you.

https://remissionentertainment.bandcamp.com/track/eternal-rest-feat-cashforgold-2

I could go on and on, but I have to leave some room for the rest of the Sounds and Shadows gang to work in.

Hit this playlist at https://bndcmpr.co/7711ef1f  to hear these tracks and more!

It’s Time To Bring the Romance Back To Goth Music.

So dark music/goth has always run a parallel for with me Romanticism. Love, loss, passion, distance, these ideas that Robert Smith perfected and were such a intimate part of that original concept. Then as the scene evolved and became broader the norm stretched further from that idea. Today as the wind is chill and the leaves have abandoned the trees I am thinking about bands that are still pluming the depths of this idea. As a song writer the most difficult thing for me to write is a genuine love song, that captures the feeling but doesn’t step over into cheese. I tried to come up with examples of releases I have not previously discussed on the page.

A Covenant of Thorns: Black – I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/black

Top Tracks: All of them…

but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression

Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.

Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.

Creux Lies : Blue – New single out from Sacramento’s favorite dark dreamers has thundering drums to drive is golden thread poetry. It’s a thicker richer sound than phenomenal 2018 release “The Hearth“. Ean’s voice is wide as the ocean and and dances on the mist. It’s really hard to capture the range and beauty of Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I feel like that is exactly what happens. My secret favorite part is the outro with old school lofi keyboards. I need a whole hell of a lot more of this and I need it now!

https://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/

Twin Tribes (Cult of Alia Remix) : Perdidos – Twin Tribes has mastered the post punk passion and sultry beauty of bands like The Cure. This latest remix by Cult of Alia is a softer more subtitle ghostly whisper tantalizing love lost beyond the void. the pulsing keyboard rhythms take the place of driving bass and conjure images of haunted towers. I’m so hungry for another Twin Tribes album, but this was a welcome repose.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/track/perdidos-cult-of-alia-remix

Selofan: Partners in Hell – This gorgeous Greek darkwave really deserves it’s own full review. I am embarrassed to say I have not written a review of them yet and they really deserve it. Per the theme I am going to focus on the track “There Must Be Somebody“. Driving mod synth tones flow down a moonlit river while a women in white calls forth with longing. This is beauty and horror blended together in true gothic fashion. Joanna Pavlidou’s voice is heavy with heart and touches you with icy clarity. Pavlidis’s basslines and chorus of synthesizers create a water color image of stormy regret and movement. Why have I not spent more time with this band?

https://selofan.bandcamp.com/album/partners-in-hell

Mortal Boy: Chronoception – LA darkwave band which is beautiful as it is intense. I love the Richard Butler flavor to the vocals. The star strike guitars really add a wonderful contrast to the darkwave style. This is definitely music full of plum red wines and flickering candles. It drips of both passion and loss. Favorite track “Kiss Me Poison” which combines all the best parts of the vocals and woven tapestry. If you have a special goth partner in your life, this is the music they want to hear as you bring out a romantic dinner.

https://mortalboy.bandcamp.com/

The Secret French Postcards: Colours – New Cold Transmission Music release from Sweden. I love the post punk feel and organic drum sounds that add clarity and precision to this droning croon. This album is the moment in the movie where the protagonist looks across a crowded club and locks eyes with their soulmate. Olli’s vocals are drenched in warm and earnest love. Offset by resonating guitar lines and keyboard cascades by (IAMTHESHADOW) Pedro Code. It’s feels modern and fresh while the melodic vocal chant reminds me of Steve Kilbey (The Church). This is a band I keep feeling grow with every release. This one is out on 12/11/20 and preorder is available now.

https://thesecretfrenchpostcards.bandcamp.com/album/colours-2

Lust For Youth: Lust For Youth – Self titled album from the Danish synthpop band giving huge New Order vibes, which is never a bad thing. This record feels like staring at the sky while rain falls down. It’s cool, it’s stark, and it reminds you why you want to keep hoping for more. I was two tracks in and I’m already a believer. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing something familiar very well. A dark tone while centering in on lyrical hope. My favorite track was “Great Concerns“. This album was a journey of connection and the power of the human experience.

https://lustforyouth.bandcamp.com/album/lust-for-youth

Korine: The Night We Raise – I have been deeply in love with this band since Twin Tribes played them for me on our podcast. From Philly this band is glorious dark dream slush with encompassing vocals and swirling synths. This new album from Sept took another step forward in production and clarity. It also has a razor fang edge to the beauty of the music. Sometimes love bites hard and while wrapped in a velvet glove of tone Korine cuts you to the quick. This is a record you really need to spend the extra moment with and peal back the layers. The cotton candy sweet on your tongue is truly just the first layer.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/


What are your favorite romantic dark tracks I missed? Post them below 🙂